An interview study exploring the experiences of Community First Responders (CFRs) in Lincolnshire as well as their relationship with patients and the ambulance service (http://rdcu.be/GkCl) was published this month in the Scandinavian Journal of Trauma, Resuscitation and Emergency Medicine The study entitled, ‘Perceptions and experiences of community first responders on their role and relationships: qualitative interview study‘ was undertaken by Viet-Hai Phung, Ian Trueman, Fiona Togher, Dr Roderick Ørner and Professor Niro Siriwardena, with valuable input from Dr Simon Topham, medical director of LIVES. It follows on from a scoping review of CFR schemes that was published in the same journal in 2017.’
The interviews reinforced the themes that the scoping review identified. Participants became CFRs mainly for altruistic reasons, to help others and put something back into their community. Ths contributed to their sense of personal satisfaction and helped maintain their involvement over time. CFRs valued scenario-based training and while some were keen to access additional training to enable them to attend a greater variety of incidents, others stressed the importance of maintaining existing practice and improving their communication skills. They were often first on scene, which they recognised could take an emotional toll, but for which they found informal support mechanisms helpful. Participants felt a lack of public recognition and sometimes were undervalued by ambulance staff, which they thought arose from a lack of clarity over their purpose and responsibilities.
In terms of future development, CFR schemes should consider the varying training, development and support needs of staff. CFRs wanted schemes to be complementary but distinct from ambulance services. Further information on outcomes and costs of the CFR contribution to prehospital care is needed to inform future how schemes operate. It is important that they maintain their local identity. To do so, they will need to respond to local needs.
By Viet-Hai Phung